At 12, I grasped for the first time who he was. There was a photograph of him in our history textbook with the caption: "Reichsjugendführer Baldur von Schirach" -- leader of the Hitler Youth. I can still see it in front of me: My name was really in our textbook. On the facing page was a photograph of Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of the failed July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler, next to the caption "resistance fighter." The word "fighter" sounded much better. I sat in class next to a Stauffenberg, a grandson like me; we are still friends to this day. He didn't know anything more than I did.
When I was 9 or 10, I watched Raising Arizona on VHS and thought it was one of the weirdest and funniest things I had ever seen. A frequently jailed stickup artist with surprisingly florid diction (Nicolas Cage) and his barren police officer wife (Holly Hunter) kidnap a loudmouth furniture magnate's quintuplet and run into trouble with two escaped convicts and the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse. I didn't get it, really, but I didn't care: It was hilarious and strange, with amusingly quotable dialogue ("I'll be taking these Huggies and, uh, whatever cash ya got") and hummable music (the "Ode to Joy" on a banjo, yodeling) throughout. During my high-school years, I caught up with the rest of the Coens' output and considered myself a fan; their best movie to that point, Fargo, came out just before I graduated and was the first I saw in a theater.
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